San Diego Wet Reckless Attorneys
‘Wet reckless’ is not a charge for which a person can be arrested. Instead, it may be used as a plea when someone has been arrested for drunk driving, but their blood alcohol content was at or near the legal amount of 0.08% in California. If the prosecution does not have enough evidence to win a drunk driving conviction, they may offer a plea of wet reckless. The word ‘reckless’ in the plea refers to reckless or careless driving, while the word ‘wet’ implies that alcohol or drugs were involved.
While most people arrested for drunk driving in San Diego will happily take a wet reckless charge instead, there are pros and cons of doing so. Speak to an experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer to see how they apply to your specific situation. Call the team at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys at (760) 630-2000 for a free consultation today.
There are many advantages of taking a wet reckless plea. The first and perhaps most obvious is that reckless driving carries a maximum jail sentence of only 90 days. This is considerably shorter than the six months to one year that a person will face if convicted of drunk driving. And, while people with previous drunk driving convictions on their record will face more jail time with each new offense, this is not the case with reckless driving.
Just as there are shorter jail sentences for those who accept a wet reckless plea, there are also shorter probation times. While a DUI can carry three to five years of probation, a wet reckless plea will typically carry one to two years of probation.
Fines are another penalty for both a DUI and a wet reckless, but again, these are lesser with a wet reckless conviction. While a DUI conviction can result in fines up to $1,000, the fines for a wet reckless are typically about half that, although the court will use its discretion when determining the fine.
Another big benefit to accepting a wet reckless plea is that there is no mandatory license suspension. When a person is convicted of a DUI, even on a misdemeanor charge, the DMV will suspend his or her license for up to three years, depending on if the accused has any prior DUIs.
Lastly, while both a DUI conviction and a wet reckless plea will require the individual to attend an alcohol education program, those who have accepted a wet reckless plea will only need to attend for about twelve weeks. Those with a DUI conviction will have to attend these programs for a minimum of three months.
It is worth noting, however, that if a person accepts a second wet reckless plea within ten years of his first, he may be ordered to attend a nine-month alcohol program. This is still much shorter than the 18-to-30-month programs a person may be required to attend if charged with a second DUI within ten years.
While there are many advantages to accepting a wet reckless plea, there are also some disadvantages. The most important is that if a person has already accepted a wet reckless plea and then is convicted of an actual DUI within the next ten years, the wet reckless plea will count as a prior DUI conviction. Because of this, the person will be convicted as a repeat offender and face much more serious consequences.
Another important factor to consider is that while a license suspension is not mandatory with a wet reckless plea, it can still happen. Even with a wet reckless plea, the DMV will suspend the license of the accused if their blood alcohol level was over 0.08%, or if they lose their DMV administrative per se hearing.
The DMV may still impose penalties on you because the way it handles matters is separate from court proceedings. When it comes to dealing with the DMV, you must still face what the California Vehicle Code dictates concerning the legal limit for blood alcohol content and refusing a blood or breath test. You will want to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to know what options you have under these circumstances.
Even when the DMV has not suspended the license of someone who accepted a wet reckless plea, his or her car insurance rates may still increase. Insurance companies typically do not differentiate between a wet reckless plea and a DUI, so the increase may be substantial.
With the help of a DUI attorney, the prosecution may put a plea bargain on the table that involves a dry reckless charge. This means that the charge doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol. It is simply reckless driving as defined under the California Vehicle Code. You will still face penalties and fines, but they will be less severe than those you would face after a wet reckless charge. This may include time in a county jail of 5 to 90 days or fines that range from $145 to $1,000.
When you make a plea bargain, it will need to be established by California courts that you understand what you are consenting to. This is done with a Tahl waiver, which is filled out before entering a plea bargain. With the signing of a Tahl waiver, you are acknowledging that you are surrendering specific constitutional rights as part of your plea deal. A judge will review this with the defendant to ensure that they understand all that it entails. The waived rights include the right to a jury trial (as detailed by the Sixth Amendment), the right to confront witnesses (as detailed by the Sixth Amendment), and the right against self-incrimination (as detailed by the Fifth Amendment).
If a waiver is not filled out properly or at all, a plea may be determined to be invalid by the court. There are also cases when a plea can be withdrawn, and this must be done in accordance with California law. A DUI defense attorney can advise you on all these matters.
Under a DUI conviction, you may lose a professional license that you have earned through training and education. Individuals affected by this include lawyers, various medical professionals, those employed by the state, pilots, real estate agents, and others. Although this is not guaranteed to happen, the consequences are likely to be more serious if an investigation by the licensing board for a particular profession is launched.
However, under a wet reckless charge, you will likely not face severe consequences from licensing boards since your record will reflect a less serious, reduced charge. Be sure to discuss this issue with your attorney to determine how you should move forward.
Deciding whether or not to accept a wet reckless plea is not a decision that should be made without the help of a San Diego criminal defense lawyer. These pleas are only offered when the prosecution thinks its case is not strong enough to win a DUI conviction. An attorney can examine your case and let you know if the charges stand a good chance of being dismissed, or if a wet reckless plea will be beneficial to you.
If you have been charged with DUI in North County, contact jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys. Lead attorney James N. Dicks is a board-certified criminal law specialist who will review your case, advise you on the best course of action, and fight for your rights every step of the way. Do not take on the arduous task of handling your defense alone. Call the team that can help at (760) 630-2000.
Sample of Case Results
- DUI with BAC of .23% -
- DUI With BAC .17 -
Reduced to Wet Reckless
View more case results here.
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